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Fantasy Football Rankings: Tight ends in Week 9

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NFL: Oakland Raiders at Washington Redskins
The ageless wonder, Vernon Davis, is the official streamer of the week due to the absence of Jordan Reed.
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Rob Gronkowski is on a bye this week, but thankfully we still have the services of Zach Ertz and Travis Kelce available to us. Ertz did have a hamstring tighten up on him in practice this Thursday, so if you choose Kelce over him this week I won’t disagree. Ertz has the superior matchup against the Broncos, who allow the third-most points to enemy tight ends. The only caveat is the Broncos have faced far better tight ends than the Cowboys have, including Jason Witten, Charles Clay, Jared Cook, Evan Engram, Hunter Henry, and Travis Kelce.

The Cowboys have allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points to tight ends, but they have faced Evan Engram (in his NFL debut), Virgil Green, Jermaine Gresham, Tyler Higbee, Martellus Bennett, George Kittle, and Vernon Davis. Not exactly a threatening group, in my humble opinion. For my part I like trusting Kelce by a hair over Ertz this weekend given Ertz’s hamstring flare-up. Maybe that is overthinking, but it seems rational.

Jack Doyle was tops among all tight ends with 14 targets against the Bengals last week, which he parlayed into a 12-121-1 line. The Texans are surprisingly forgiving to enemy tight ends, so I like Doyle more than most in Week 9. Volume is a large part of the reason we love Ertz this year, so if Doyle has a chance of pushing for double-digit targets he deserves an aggressive ranking. Doyle “only” had 7 targets in Week 7 against the Jaguars, but he paced the position in Week 6 with 11 targets against a Tennessee team that has been strong against tight ends all season. The Bengals have also been an uninspiring matchup for tight ends in 2017. So, keep count...in two of the last three weeks Doyle has topped the position in targets despite those matchups not being ideal. This week he gets the Texans, who allow the sixth-most points to tight ends. You do your own math, but I don’t see how anyone ranks Doyle outside of their best five options this week.

Evan Engram is averaging 5.5-72-1 in his last two games without OBJ. Sterling Shepard returns this week, but Engram still appears to be Eli Manning’s de facto top option in the passing game. Engram amassed 12 targets in Week 7 in a loss to the Seahawks, and “only” had 7 targets in a 23-10 win over Denver in Week 6. The resurgence of Todd Gurley and the Rams offense as a whole, coupled with the suspension of Janoris Jenkins and injuries to Jonathan Casillas, B.J. Goodson, Olivier Vernon, and Kerry Wynn allude to the GMen trailing in this one. I love me some Engram this week.

Jimmy Graham has been on fire with touchdowns lately and the Redskins are garbage against tight ends, making Graham one of the legitimate top choices this week. My only fear is a blowout in Seattle, but Earl Thomas (hamstring) is already out and Bobby Wagner (hamstring) is questionable. Kam Chancellor (ankle) is also on the injury radar, making this a game worth paying attention to throughout the weekend. If Washington’s offensive outlook improves a bit then I might consider bumping Graham up a notch, but top five already feels right to me. Graham has target counts of 8, 6, and 5 over his last three games, so he doesn’t project for as much volume as any of the four tight ends I have ranked ahead of him. I don’t like banking on touchdowns...do you?

Jason Witten has a better matchup than Cameron Brate, and the KC @ DAL affair looks like a better bet for fireworks than TB @ NO. I could see the Saints jumping out to a lead and then feasting on a turnover-prone Jameis Winston, but maybe that’s just me.

Vernon Davis is the streamer-of-the-week due to the absence of Jordan Reed. I like him more than a dinged-up Delanie Walker, despite Walker’s prime matchup against the Ravens. Walker hasn’t been his usual dominant self in his age-33 season, and Corey Davis returns this week to make matter slightly worse.

In the Thursday night game, “ASJ” was robbed of a 20-yard touchdown due to a bogus push-off call and Nick O’Leary (4-51, fumble) produced as a lower-end TE2 option like we thought he would. Hopefully you dodged a bullet on those two—I know I leaned on Engram in a couple of seasonal leagues over ASJ. Right now that is looking like a winning move.

Jared Cook and Tyler Kroft round out my TE1 options for this week, so that makes this a wrap, except for mentioning that the TE-friendly Giants are back on the docket. That makes Tyler Higbee a fine dart play if you need to dig pretty deep this week, since the Giants have allowed a touchdown to a tight end every single week this season. Yikes.

Good luck out there, and be sure to haggle in the comments! Who do you like this week?

Week 9 Tight End Rankings

RANK NAME OPPONENT
RANK NAME OPPONENT
1 Travis Kelce @ DAL
2 Zach Ertz vs. DEN
3 Jack Doyle @ HOU
4 Evan Engram vs. LAR
5 Jimmy Graham vs. WAS
6 Jason Witten vs. KC
7 Austin Seferian-Jenkins vs. BUF
8 Cameron Brate @ NO
9 Vernon Davis @ SEA
10 Delanie Walker vs. BAL
11 Jared Cook @ MIA
12 Tyler Kroft @ JAC
13 Ed Dickson vs. ATL
14 A.J. Derby @ PHI
15 Austin Hooper @ CAR
16 Nick O'Leary @ NYJ
17 Tyler Higbee @ NYG
18 George Kittle vs. ARI
19 Benjamin Watson @ TEN
20 Eric Ebron @ GB
21 Ryan Griffin vs. IND
22 Coby Fleener vs. TB
23 Martellus Bennett vs. DET
24 Julius Thomas vs. OAK
25 Gerald Everett @ NYG
26 Jonnu Smith vs. BAL
27 O.J. Howard @ NO
28 Darren Fells @ GB
29 Marcedes Lewis vs. CIN
30 Jermaine Gresham @ SF
31 Josh Hill vs. TB
32 Trey Burton vs. DEN